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SSW7 Weekender

Venue: Stanwix Holiday Park, Silloth on Solway

Date: 9th - 11th June 2017

By Mark Devlin | 12 June 2017

The tagline ‘for purists, not tourists’ summed it all up. As SSW returned for its seventh all-weekend outing, a loyal fanbase of attendees assembled, alongside a handful of newcomers, for three nights of black dance music in all its guises - except, of course, anything of a mainstream crossover nature. This was an event of real music for people who feel music.

As with last year, SSW commandeered the Stanwix Holiday Park in a wet and windswept Silloth on Solway in far-north Cumbria. Although the event started out as the Scottish Soulful Weekender, this was a good 20 miles or so behind the English border, due to no suitable venues being available actually in Scotland. This technicality seemed of no consequence to the enthusiastic attendees, however, with many of the accents suggesting that folk had come from deep into Scotland to be a part of “their” event.

The four rooms of music enabled a full-range cross-section of grooves to get showcased; the Pressure Point dealt with deep, soulful, occasionally tribal and often pumping House, The Goldmine offered up-and-coming names the chance to drop some freestyle sounds, the Love Lounge was the VIP hang-out spot with DJs dropping grooves of their choice, while much of SSW’s reputation is built on The Shrine, the place of rare and painstakingly-unearthed soulful gems, where both the DJs and the punters are of connoisseur status, and with some fancy dancefloor footwork to match. The transitory nature of each room means they can be entertaining a small handful of punters one minute, with a massive throng of ravers descending unannounced the next, and instantly re-ignite the atmosphere.

Massive-profile headline names don’t seem necessary at SSW; it’s the tuneage that counts, regardless of who happens to be dropping it. Certainly, Friday night’s Pressure Point headliners were far from obscure, with Bobby & Steve spinning energetic gospel house, Joey Negro doing his trademark disco thing, and  A Guy Called Gerald twiddling the knobs on a live 15-minute rework of the evergreen ‘Voodoo Ray’ almost 30 years on. Jimpster and Ivan Smagghe were among Saturday’s names bringing more of the same. Among the jocks demonstrating their knowledge of the groove in the Shrine were Dave Girdwood, Gavin Page, James Pogson, and of course SSW head honcho Yogi Haughton in one of several sets over the weekend. There was live music action, too, with vocal duo Joe Roberts ('Back In My Life') and Melanie Williams (Sub Sub's 'Ain't No Love') in performance.

Any punters giving the Love Lounge a swerve were missing out on some serious crate-digging, as DJs as diverse as Thomas Tuft of Liverpool’s 3 Beat Records, Rebecca Vasmant of BBC Radio Scotland, the Made in Glasgow crew (who were curating the room,) and Steal Vybe’s Chris Forman all the way from New Jersey pushed the musical envelope, but taking care to keep everything classy and soulful in the process. At times, the room was in danger of defying its intended nature as a chill-out spot, as things got slightly carried away.

It was no great surprise that the planned-for open-air pool party on Saturday had to be moved indoors - the legacy of a bleak and exposed coastline and a typical British ‘Summer’. Then the last few drops were squeezed out of the weekend with Sunday night’s after-party til 4am.

It’s a long and winding road to Silloth from any direction, but there’s every indication that the party faithful will be travelling it again for more of the same at SSW8.

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